Information Note 22 - 23 January 2009
Preliminary findings from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicate the complete destruction of over 4,000 residences, partial destruction of 17,000 buildings, and 25 schools, hospitals and universities.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that an estimated 90,000 people have been displaced, including up to 50,000 children. Around 49,693 have taken refuge in at least 50 shelters provided by UNRWA. Following the cease-fire, many displaced persons started leaving the emergency shelters to join other family members’ homes or, to the extent possible, back to their own homes.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) and WHO report that 34 health facilities were damaged or destroyed and 16 ambulances were damaged in direct or indirect shelling. Since 27 December 2008, 16 health personnel were killed and 22 injured while on duty, according to the MoH health information centre in Gaza.
During the conflict, 49 UN buildings sustained damage (OCHA).
Schools are closed and many children have not been able to leave their homes due to the danger/fear of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Electricity coverage is still of only 8-12 hours a day. The water and sanitation system is under extreme duress.
On the morning of the 22nd, Israeli troops fired and injured a child east of Gaza City near the border. Four Palestinians were also injured by shell fire from an Israeli gunboat reportedly firing at Palestinian fishermen on the Gaza coast.
Two Palestinian children were killed on 20 January by unexploded ordnance in Az Zaitoun.
UNICEF will take part in an OCHA-coordinated inter-agency Rapid Needs Assessment pending security clearance. The UNDP-led Early Recovery Assessment is also awaiting clearance from the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). Meanwhile, the Rapid Assessment team is collecting information through a network of UN staff and partners in Gaza.
Once assessments are completed, an inter-agency appeal on Gaza is expected to be launched early February.
WHITE PHOSPHOROUS - The Israeli media reported that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have acknowledged it used two types of ammunition containing phosphorous during its operations in Gaza. Accordingly, the IDF is investigating the misuse of one of these types in Beit Lahiya.
As schools (governmental and UNRWA-operated) in Gaza are to start on 24 January, UNICEF has alerted the MOE on the issue of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and has requested the police to clean schools from UXOs. UNICEF is advocating for the clearance of schools, clinics and youth centres.
Teachers were called to conduct an assessment of schools, and the education authority at the directorate level is conducting a rapid assessment.
UNICEF is providing ongoing child survival and immunization support and scaling up integrated maternal and child illness services, psychosocial support and nutrition aid.
UNICEF and UNRWA are working together to immunize all children against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) in Gaza. 56 Primary Health Centres (PHC) managed by the MoH and another 18 managed by UNRWA have all resumed childhood vaccination programmes. With UNICEF support, an important vaccine storage facility in Gaza is now functional, and routine vaccines will be available until March. Vaccines are being provided in 34 clinics as normal, and access for patients has improved.
Assessments are underway to evaluate immediate health needs and damage to health facilities.
On 22 January, the two UNICEF-supported therapeutic centers in Gaza and Khan Younis were working at full capacity to provide services for 180 malnourished children and their mothers on a daily basis.
On 21 January, UNICEF supplied the MOH with Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) drugs sufficient for 40,000 children for a period of six months.
UNICEF disbursed $50,000 to Gaza’s water utility for rapid repairs to the water network. The initial rapid assessment carried out by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) in Gaza and other humanitarian actors found that damages to the water networks, wells and waste water system amount to a total of $3.6 million.
On 22 January, UNICEF distributed 1,800 basic hygiene kits to two NGOs, reaching 18,000 people. On the 21st, UNICEF delivered six trucks of family hygiene kits to Gazans, and over 1,300 water purification tablets went into Gaza to provide safe drinking water for 30,000 people over the next three months.
CHILD PROTECTION and ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT/PARTICIPATION (ADAP)
Partners in the psychosocial sector will conduct home and hospital visits starting Saturday.
UNICEF is leading the mine risk awareness operation. Two radio spots on the protection of children from UXOs are being aired on four different radio stations. UNICEF has also ensured that 100,000 copies of a leaflet on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and UXO are distributed throughout Gaza. The NGOs MAG and Handicap International are responsible for risk assessments and clearance, and the Police Explosive Unit have started the marking/clearance of UXOs. A toll free number has been created for reporting on UXOs.
UNICEF continues to support a national NGO, Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict resolution (PCDCR), which runs a toll phone line providing one-on-one support to parents and children daily between 9:00AM and midnight.
UNICEF has been asked by the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) to prepare a report on child rights violation during the Gaza crisis. This report will be part of many inputs for a final document on grave violations committed against children during the recent conflict.
Yesterday two trucks with UNICEF supplies went into Gaza: one carrying 14,400 water jerry cans from Amman; the other with 232 basic family water kits procured by the oPt office.